Personalising the journey from brand to demand with retargeting

Responding to the signals that people send when engaging with your ads can help you to tailor messaging to different stages of the customer journey

June 24, 2020

Personalising the journey from brand to demand with retargeting

Almost every marketer is familiar with the concept of the customer journey: the process of turning a stranger of your business into a customer of your business. It’s the thread that links our brand activity, focused on building awareness and salience at scale, with targeted demand marketing that gives people immediate reasons for taking action. When brands get this right they serve up the types of experiences that consumers have become accustomed to enjoying when they turn on Netflix or Spotify: seamless, intuitive and personalised. However, linking the different elements of the customer journey in this way can feel like an intimidating task for B2B marketers. In a world of complex buying committees and lengthy sales cycles, it’s a challenge to match the right experience with the right moment in each person’s buying journey.

Retargeting hasn’t always been the solution that springs to mind. In the past, it’s been associated with irksome ads following audiences around the internet based on a single action they’ve taken in the past. However, as retargeting has evolved, its capacity for enhancing and personalising the customer experience has become invaluable. Retargeting is no longer just a reason for serving people ads. It’s a tool for making informed decisions about which experience they need nexts, and delivering those experiences cost-effectively, at scale. If we’re to deliver the types of personalised journeys from brand to demand that our audiences expect, sophisticated use of retargeting has a definite role to play.

A brief history of brand to demand
The way that marketers visualise the customer journey is still shaped by a concept first developed by the US businessman E. St. Elmo Lewis, in 1898. His AIDA model mapped out the stages of Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action involved in the run-up to purchase. Although developed as a framework to guide sales conversations over the phone, its simplicity has helped to make it a guiding principle of marketing – and it still forms the basis of most digital marketing strategies more than 120 years after St. Elmo Lewis first sketched it out.

The AIDA model is the foundation for almost every piece of thought-leadership you’ve read about how to balance brand marketing and lead generation activities – and it’s a question that remains fundamental to B2B marketing today. Recent research by Les Binet and Peter Field has demonstrated that most B2B businesses underinvest significantly in brand marketing, partly because of a lack of understanding about how the B2B buying journey works. Binet and Field’s work for the B2B Institute shows that the optimum marketing mix for B2B is actually a roughly 50:50 split between brand and demand. Broader brand campaigns build salience among a wide audience over a period of months or years, with short-term lead generation campaigns converting this salience into demand and action.

The AIDA model’s strength is its simplicity – but that simplicity can also be a limitation. The model can easily lead marketers to assume that the customer journey is a linear one – and that only one person is taking it. In B2B, the reality can be very different. LinkedIn’s Anonymous Buyer Research shows how an average of four out of every five employees are involved in the B2B tech buying journey, playing overlapping roles at different stages of the buying journey for the business as a whole. With buying choices no longer the preserve of a single, senior decision-maker, marketers have to personalise their approach to different members of a buying committee based on where each is in their AIDA journey – and on which role they are playing within their business’s move towards a purchase. A January 2019 survey of marketers and consumers for RedPoint Global found B2B marketers struggling to create exceptional customer experiences because of the difficulties personalising their communications in this way.

Connecting brand and demand through retargeting
Retargeting based on engagement with ad campaigns picks up on valuable signals of where people are in their AIDA journey with your specific brand. It enables sequential messaging – serving ads focused on generating Desire and Action once you have clear evidence of Awareness and Interest. This means that demand marketing can follow brand marketing in a meaningful and relevant way. It drives better customer experiences and a more intuitive customer journey – and it maximises the value of marketing spend at all points in that journey.

The value of retargeting based on engagement grows when your ads are already targeting a relevant audience at scale. Over the last year, LinkedIn has launched a wealth of new targeting features such as audience forecasting and interest targeting that give marketers more control than ever before over the types of professionals they reach. Retargeting based on the actions of the audience translates this relevant reach into the crucial next steps in the customer journey.

Retargeting based on video views and Lead Gen Forms
Over the next month, LinkedIn will be rolling out retargeting by video views and interaction with Lead Gen Forms, which picks up on signals of intent at two key stages of the customer journey, and enables marketers to tailor their approach to where buyers are in the process. Whether you’re looking to develop awareness into interest or interest into desire and action, responding to these signals can significantly increase conversion rate and dramatically improve lead quality.

Marit van der Louw, International Content Marketer at TOPDesk is one of the early users of these new retargeting features. “The new remarketing capabilities for Lead Gen Forms and Video enable us to complete the full-funnel strategy we’ve been implementing on LinkedIn,” he says. “Since using the new remarketing capabilities for Lead Gen Forms and videos our conversion rate has gone up by 20%, while our cost per conversion went down by 24%.”

The combination of video views and engagement with Lead Gen Forms means that LinkedIn retargeting can be applied to a range of different strategic objectives, at different stages of the funnel:

  • Tailored messages to build on proven awareness and engagement
    Marketers can retarget audience members who watch 75% or more of a video, picking up on robust signals of engagement and offering the intuitive next step in the customer journey. If you’re running a video ad showcasing an upcoming event, for example, you could retarget viewers with Sponsored Content inviting them to register.
  • Strengthening relationships with buying committees
    Account targeting on LinkedIn is already a key component in Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns, enabling B2B marketers to build momentum across broad buying committees. By retargeting on the basis of these campaigns, you can deliver sequential messaging to various buyers and influencers based on the signals that indicate where they are in the buyer journey.
  • Following through to turn interest into conversions
    Opening a Lead Gen Form is a key signal of interest and engagement. However, not every opening of a form secures a lead first time around. Retargeting those who have clicked but not converted provides an opportunity to overcome the factors that can get in the way – and secure relevant leads that your campaign would otherwise miss out on.

Data from early users of the retargeting feature shows that responding to ad engagement in this way doesn’t just increase click-through and conversion rates. It also has a positive impact on overall lead quality, by focusing your marketing on the most relevant people at the most relevant time. In the process it shows how open audiences themselves are to seamless, sequential messaging that picks up on the signals they send.

“We tested retargeting by Lead Gen Forms against our normal targeting tactics and found the CTR to be 2-3 times higher,” says Morten Jensen, Senior Marketing Manager at Jabra, another early user of LinkedIn Retargeting. “Although still early in the process, we find that leads generated from retargeting have a higher qualification rate from MQL to SQL.”

You’ll find the new retargeting features in LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager interface today.